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Suffolk County Executive Bellone Signs Legislation Strengthening Enforcement of Criminal Complaints at Amusement and Water Parks

Bellone: "This law will safeguard our most vulnerable and ensure the procedures in place for these types of establishments are crystal clear."

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Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

Photo by: Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, via Flickr

Suffolk County, NY - January 15, 2019 - Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today signed legislation into law that requires amusement parks and water parks operating in Suffolk County to immediately report any criminal conduct, including sex offenses, that occurs on their property to the appropriate law enforcement agency. The bill, which was sponsored by Suffolk County Legislator Susan A. Berland and was passed unanimously at the December 4th meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature, is designed to strengthen enforcement of criminal complaints by ensuring authorities are promptly notified.
“Children and families should not have to worry about their safety when trying to enjoy a day of fun at an amusement or water park,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “This law will safeguard our most vulnerable and ensure the procedures in place for these types of establishments are crystal clear.”
“The safety of our public, and especially that of our children, is of utmost importance,” said Legislator Susan A. Berland. “I want to thank my colleagues on the Legislature for their unanimous support of this resolution and for recognizing that as elected officials we owe it to our children to protect them from harm, especially when they are simply spending the day having fun. The operators of water and amusement parks now need to notify the appropriate authorities when they are told of an alleged criminal act. I was troubled by the water park incident and introduced this legislation to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again. The passage of this resolution is a step in the right direction.”
Laura Ahearn, Esq., LMSW, Executive Director of the Crime Victims Center and Parents for Megan’s Law said: “Amusement and water parks in Suffolk County are family friendly but sexual predators can use that safe environment to prey upon our most vulnerable.  When signed into law, this legislation will send a powerful message of intolerance to owners and operators of amusement and water parks and to those who would seek to harm our most vulnerable.”   
Mike Bengtson, General Manager of Splish Splash said: “Splish Splash complies with all applicable laws and regulations.  We are absolutely supportive of any new legislation which may improve guest safety and security at theme parks."  
The legislation follows an incident that occurred last summer at a waterpark where young girls were reportedly groped by a group of men in the wave pool and the park failed to immediately notify local law enforcement agencies of the incident or obtain identifying information from the alleged perpetrators.  
The law, which goes into effect 90 days after it is filed with the New York State Office of Secretary of State, requires the owner, operator, employee or agent of an amusement park or water park operating in Suffolk County to immediately contact an appropriate law enforcement agency when a criminal act, including sex offenses, occurs on their premises. Entities in violation of this law will be punishable by the payment of a civil payment not to exceed $5,000 for the first violation and a $10,000 penalty for subsequent violations, to be recovered in a civil action.